March 30, 2001/Nisan 6, 5761, Vol. 53, No.26
Lanner charged with sex
GARY ROSENBLATTNEW YORK - Nine months
after The Jewish Week reported on allegations that Rabbi Baruch Lanner had
abused teenagers in his charge for three decades, a Monmouth County, N.J.,
grand jury indicted him last week on six criminal charges.
New York Jewish Week
rabbi faces two counts each of aggravated criminal sexual conduct,
criminal sexual conduct and endangering the welfare of a child. The crimes
are second-, third- and fourth-degree offenses. A second-degree offense
carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
will be scheduled in the next six weeks, according to Mark Fliedner,
assistant prosecutor in Monmouth County. Lanner will be required to appear
and bail will be set.
Fliedner told The Jewish Week the
investigation, conducted by the prosecutor's office and the Ocean
Township, N.J., Police Department, was "lengthy and exhaustive," and
originated with The Jewish Week report of last June. Two women, now
adults, who were minors at the time of the alleged abuse by Lanner, came
forward to the authorities, who convened a grand jury that met over a
period of several weeks.
The focus of attention in the Lanner case
has been on the National Conference of Synagogue Youth and its parent
group, the Orthodox Union, where the rabbi served in a leadership capacity
for 30 years. But the indictments stem from his contact with the two women
when they were students at the Hillel Yeshiva High School in Deal, N.J.,
where Lanner served as principal for 15 years, leaving amid a cloud of
suspicion in 1997.
He is charged with engaging in sexual conduct
with the students in his private office.
School officials did not
return phone calls from The Jewish Week.
The first woman approached
officials after reading the initial news report, and the second woman came
forward as a result of the police investigation, Fliedner said.
assistant prosecutor explained that aggravated criminal sexual conduct
stems from the fact that the victims were under 16 at the time and that
the rabbi had a supervisory or disciplinary role. Criminal sexual conduct
means that force or coercion was used, and the endangerment charge applies
to someone who has the legal duty of care for a minor and engages in
The first woman, now 19, alleged that Lanner
sexually abused her almost daily in his office at the yeshiva when she was
a 14-year-old ninth-grader there in 1995 and 1996. She testified about
this treatment before the grand jury, as did her mother, who asserted that
she overheard Lanner on the phone with her daughter, telling her he loved
her and wanted to marry her.
Lanner, who has refused past efforts
by The Jewish Week to be interviewed, denied the allegations to a New York
Times reporter last July. He was quoted as saying, "Emphatically,
emphatically, emphatically it did not happen. This is a kid that came from
a troubled background. I took her in and raised the tuition money for her
to attend that school, and bus money, and this is the payback I
The time frame of the alleged misconduct with the second
student took place between Sept. 1, 1992 and June 30, 1994, according to